What I Should Have Said (Sally A. Gregoire)



What I Should Have Said


What I should have said

was I not

so full of shits and grins and giggles,


and you, having pulled

the ring out of your pocket and

flung it at


in the front seat of your car, a ’76 lemon yellow Skylark


from your brother for $500

and a prayer.

Flinging that box at me as easily

as every broken half-assed argument that hung

between us

like wet laundry in a cold wind, bitten off

in short chunks of

you never listen you can’t admit when you’re wrong don’t act like a baby oh

grow up.

But grown up in the front seat of that car,

startled by the glimmer, like the shine

I took to you fronting shelves in Aisle Two and selling

generic cigarettes to the bums off Church Street, running

register side by side

while our education fell

to the wayside, too young to say no

too young to know it or

admit it.

I should have seen it coming.

Bolted and ran. Slammed the door.

But no.

Slammed open their bedroom door at 12:15 AM –

midnight, the witching hour –

your parents blinking like cats in the dark,

knuckling glitter and What the hell? from their eyes.


You’re too young

you tell me now you should’ve said then

when the miles roll away between us and he hasn’t come home


She told you then

in the same tone used to monitor

your first kiss outside Maria Albertini’s front door.

That baneful voice speaks to you

even today, and

I can’t exorcise it even 1,000 miles away.

I have adopted that roll.

Pick up your socks pay the bills wash your hands

leave me alone tonight.

What I should have said


everytime your selfish anger flares

at me like the tip of a hard smoked cigarette in the darkened

window of a night train I ride

again and again, winging like the geese


bringing me far and


from you

every time I think about

what I should have said.

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